Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has accused his successor Boris Johnson of “snubbing” gay Londoners by scrapping the annual London Pride mayoral reception.
He promised he would reinstate the receptions if re-elected in 2012.
PinkNews.co.uk exclusively revealed yesterday that Mr Johnson has decided to end receptions which are specific to minority groups, such as the one for Pride, which is one of London’s biggest festivals.
Instead, “borough community receptions” will be held in order to “bring people together rather than focusing on what is different”.
Mr Livingstone announced this week he would run for the mayoralty again, two years after losing to Mr Johnson. He hopes to become Labour’s candidate for the 2012 mayoral election.
Responding to PinkNews.co.uk’s report, he said Mr Johnson’s decision was a “snub” to gay Londoners and promised to reinstate the receptions if re-elected.
He said: “The decision to end civic recognition at City Hall of the importance of Pride is a snub to LGBT Londoners. This shows how little importance Boris Johnson’s administration places on acknowledging the contribution of London’s many communities and the great scope and range of human experience that makes our city such an extraordinary place.
“First Boris Johnson made cuts to Soho Pride, then he withdrew the Greater London Authority from the Stonewall Employers’ list, now he’s putting an end to civic recognition of LGBT Londoners at City Hall.
“LGBT Londoners are an asset to our city and they will not be swept under the carpet like this should I be elected. Contrary to what Boris Johnson’s administration says, celebrating LGBT Londoners does not cause ‘divisions’ but is part of breaking divisions down by showing that London government respects lesbian and gay Londoners.
“As reported, this would not only see the Pride reception axed but the end of other events specific to many other London communities and groups.
“Under my administration if I am elected, London government will once again celebrate, thank and support Londoners as they lead their lives.”
City Hall officials are still drawing up plans for the new programme of receptions.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk yesterday that the idea was to avoid divisions and said the mayor wanted to “bring people together rather than focusing on what is different”.
He said he could not yet confirm whether Mr Johnson would join the parade on July 3rd but said the mayor would be supporting the festival.
On the new receptions, he said: “The mayor wants to transform the way City Hall engages with London’s varied communities and is introducing a new programme of borough community receptions, with the aim of individuals being represented from as many different groups as possible, including LGBT Londoners.”